|Posted on Sunday, February 01, 2004 - 19:03: |
What is this elbows down thing which I have seen here and in other places too?
If I push my elbows down does it not lower my head too?
|Posted on Monday, February 02, 2004 - 02:15: |
For T'ai Chi purposes we don't push the elbows down, it is more like we just don't straighten the arm through that joint. The goal of T'ai Chi Ch'uan is to be loose and relaxed at all times in all positions, to push the elbows down by force of muscular tension in our training means we no longer have T'ai Chi, but something else. There should always be a little bit of a bend in the elbows, even in the farthest extensions of the hands away from the body, but it is there in looseness, not held stiff in the dropped position. Straightening the arm makes the elbow joint vulnerable to an incapacitating attack from below, besides impeding circulation through the joint somewhat.
As you notice, we also have the requirement to "suspend the head from above as if from a string." If the elbows are down properly the shoulder joints will have to open as well, which has many benefits, not least of which being that it is then possible to have a maximally long reach without distorting our alignments in the rest of the body.
Most people you meet will have very stiff shoulders (from a T'ai Chi Ch'uan perspective, at least), so relaxing them (and the elbows and everything else for that matter) is something that usually takes students a few years training to get right, at best.
|Posted on Monday, February 02, 2004 - 13:51: |
This is, of course, absolutely correct and I would like to add to A.A's words something from the anatomical/physiological angle of viewing this isuue. Keeping the elbows down while performing the form of Tai Chi has an effect over the regions of the scapula, shoulder and neck as well, and is crucial for the purpose of keeping the head suspended. Lowering the elbows, or rather letting them sink, lowers also the scapula and the lower part of the Levator Scapula muscle and the lower Trapezius. At the same time the uipper Levator Scapula is able to pull in an upward direction and stretch the cervical vertebrae. This can be visualized in the following sketch.
When you do not keep your elbows down, there is a tendency of the lower Levator Scapula to stretch upward, pulling both the scapula and the shoulder, hence congesting the cervical vertebrae area, disabling the head from being suspended and impeding the Qi and blood flow to the head. As we have discussed previously on this forum under other threads, Tai Chi bears a considerable significance for meditation. It is of prime importance in Taoist meditation that Qi will be able to flow freely through the Du Mai to the head and brain. Using the Levator Scapula muscle in the fashion described above, i.e., its upper part pulls upward while its lower part, guided by the elbows pulls downward, creates an internal "pump" which enables the attraction and circulation of the Qi from the Dan Tian through the Du Mai to the head. This "pump" is activated by both the proper breathing and stretching of the head in the manner described above.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 00:01: |
There can also be a distortion in the shoulder capsule itself due to the scapula problem Shmuel describes, which can lead to serious arthritic changes in the bones and loss of ROM over extended periods of time, IME. A standard Western treatment for this condition is known as "manipulation under anesthesia" or M.U.A. and is an acutely painful procedure for the patient at best.
From a martial standpoint; besides making the elbow more vulnerable to impact as I mentioned above, a lifted elbow on a stiff arm provides the opponent a direct handle to one's center of gravity, and it interferes with one's ability to link the power generated in the lower body to its expression in the hands, as well. "Drop your elbows" is probably the most common correction we give beginning and intermediate T'ai Chi students when they are training the form or pushing hands.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 12:54: |
Hey guys, you ARE astonishing... a chinese doctor and a taichi fighter...
thanx to both of you.
|Posted on Saturday, October 15, 2005 - 00:16: |
In the "Tai Chi Classics" (good book by the way), I think they use the term "sink". Sink the knees, sink the shoulders, and sink the elbows. I'm sure you could imagine sinking into your hara as well as sinking the hara itself to find even lower stances. But yeah, no, you don't force it man, that would be silly. Just relax all of those muscles that work to hold all of those bits up.